This is part of the series Selling Your Art in the Modern Economy (intro). Read the previous ones to get the full picture: part 1 Get Personal, part 2 Website, part 3 Email, part 4 Target Market, part 5 Outreach, and part 6 Launching.
A carefully-designed giveaway can bring you loads of new fans – and email subscribers.
It works because it creates a lot of energy and buzz about your art. People talk about it, if you design it well, which ensures that new people find out about it and are excited by it.
I’m not going to talk about the differences between giveaways and contests. You can Google that. But if you aren’t sure, that’s the first thing to look into. I will be going through the specifics of creating a successful giveaway because it’s definitely something I can cover in a single post and really clear it all up for you.
WHAT SHOULD YOU GIVE AWAY?
Some people are tempted to give away an iPad or a Starbucks gift card or something else that would make tons of people enter the giveaway. And that would be really cool! It would.
But then hundreds of those people (Thousands? Who knows how many would sign up?!) would unsubscribe immediately afterward because they couldn’t care less about your art – they just wanted to win that cool prize.
So of course the best thing to giveaway is something with your art on it.
I find that it is very helpful to not give away original art. You need people to keep perceiving your originals as worth a lot of money. If you are willing to just give them away, it can ruin that perception, which will dramatically hurt your normal sales.
Most artists can easily create prints of their work and give that away instead of an original. If you make products with your art printed on them – like greeting cards perhaps – you might consider giving those away.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU GIVE SOMETHING AWAY?
Don’t make a habit of giving things away all the time. This is another way of lowering the perceived value of your art, but even more importantly, it can trigger your fans to wait around for another giveaway instead of buying your art. They might think, “Oh she’ll give something away soon and maybe I’ll win!” It takes away that sense of urgency to buy your art; they’ll may get it for free if they’re patient enough.
So I usually recommend you do a giveaway once a year or less. If you are launching a new line of products (like you just started printing your art onto pillowcases through Society6 maybe), then you might do an extra giveaway. But this should be very rare.
HOW SHOULD YOU STRUCTURE THE GIVEAWAY?
The most important thing is that you get your goal straight and your entry methods support that goal.
Most of the time, I recommend an artist’s goal for a giveaway is to get more people who love their art onto their email list. (Because that’s where you build relationships with your fans that turn into sales.)
But occasionally your goal may be to get more followers on a social media account, to build more engagement with your fans, or simply to get loads more eyeballs on your art.
So how would you support “getting more people onto your email list” with your entry methods? Absolutely, 100% – make a required entry be signing up for your email list.
The more required entries you have (or required fields when they’re completing those entries) the fewer people you’ll get to sign up.
It’s just part of our fast-paced, online world. If we have to do more things, we’ll give up. (Sad, but true.) So I usually recommend only having one required entry.
But the magic happens in the bonus entries.
Because not a lot of “more people on your email list” will come from just having people who see the giveaway sign up for your email list. You need to somehow have the giveaway perpetuate itself, showing itself to more and more people. And the way to do that is with bonus entries for sharing the giveaway.
If I wanted to enter your giveaway and have a chance at winning the print without telling any of my friends about it, I can. But I can also get way better chances of winning the print if I tell some friends.
As long as you keep it easy to track, you can give people extra entries for anything from tagging a friend to sharing the giveaway graphic on their own social media feeds – on any platform. It’s up to you what options you offer and I would consider basing that primarily on how easy it will be to track entries.
HOW DO I TRACK ENTRIES?
It’s absolutely crucial that you track entries (at least fairly accurately) so that you are drawing from the right number of entries and everyone gets credit for what they’ve done to enter.
It wouldn’t be very fair if I had five entries into your giveaway, but you only noticed three of them so I didn’t get my fair percentage chance to win. Did you take Statistics? I did, but we won’t get into how that went…
You can track entries in a spreadsheet if you have a really small following and will probably be getting under 100 entries. But when you start to get into the hundreds range of entries, you don’t want to be messing with a spreadsheet. There are loads of apps out there to run giveaways on a page on your website. Try something like Rafflecopter so that all entries are automatically tracked for you and you just click a button to pick a winner.
HOW LONG SHOULD THE GIVEAWAY RUN FOR?
Too long an entry period and people lose interest and won’t sign up or share because it’s just not exciting. But too short an entry period? You don’t have enough time for it to reach the large numbers you want it to.
Typically, between 4 and 10 days is good. Err on the longer side if you have a small following because this works in exponential growth. If you have two followers who each share with three people, you may end up with six entrants. But if you have twenty followers who each share with three people, you may end up with sixty entrants. So in the same amount of time you can get a lot more people in if you already have a good-sized following.
WHAT ARE THE RULES?
I’m no lawyer so I’m not going to tell you what legally has to be a part of your giveaway rules, but check out this post on The Artist’s J.D. for some legally-backed advice on that.
From a non-legal standpoint, make sure it’s clear to your potential entrants how many prizes will be given out and exactly when you’ll stop taking entries. Also let them know how the winner will be contacted so they won’t miss your email or message when you tell them they’ve won.
WHAT SHOULD I DO POST-GIVEAWAY?
You definitely don’t want to just draw the winner and send them the prize. Yawn.
Remember part of doing this giveaway is so that you create buzz and energy around your art. If it isn’t exciting for people, it kind of loses the chutzpah that drives it.
So you want to make it fun for people.
Contact the winner first and make sure you hear back from them as confirmation that they will indeed be getting the prize. As crazy as it sounds, it’s not unheard of for prize winners to not claim their prize, in which case you would want to draw a new winner. You need to make good on the promise to giveaway the thing you said you’d giveaway, but it is also up to the winner to receive that prize.
After you’ve gotten confirmation from the winner, you want to announce it everywhere.
So send an email out letting everyone who entered know the first name of the winner and thanking everyone for joining in. Some people choose to offer an extra gift to everyone who entered but didn’t win, like a free desktop wallpaper or a discount code for prints.
After that, pop onto all your social media accounts and create announcements with an eye-catching graphic to let all your followers know you’ve drawn the winner.
When you tell the winner you’ve shipped their prize and they can expect it around X date, also ask them to take a photo of it when it arrives so that you can share it on social media. I find that more than half of winners will oblige that request. When they do, share the picture on all your social media accounts with a caption explaining that it’s the giveaway winner’s prize.
That just creates one more bit of buzz you can milk out of the giveaway.
If you’re thinking about doing a giveaway, don’t just throw one up on Instagram. Actually take a few minutes to plan out the logistics of it and you’ll be much happier with the results in the end.
This is part of the series Selling Your Art in the Modern Economy. To get the full picture, make sure you read the introduction, part 1 get personal, part 2 Website, part 3 Email,part 4 Target Market, part 5 Outreach, part 6 Launching, and sign up below so you don’t miss any of the articles!